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Do it Yourself Wills

<font size=2> <P>When life seems expenive enough -- thinking of writing a will can be the last thing on your mind....</P> <P>Consumer Reports gives you cost-effective advice on putting together a do-it-yourself will.</P></font>

More than half of all Americans do not have a will. No doubt the expense of hiring an attorney factors in.

But there are do-it-yourself software programs for far less.

Consumer Reports money adviser checked out several to see if they can help people who need to get one done.

Greg Parker has more.

"No, I don't have a will."

"I do not, I'm embarrassed to say."

"You don't think about a will. You don't even think about dying, to be honest with you."

Attorney Michael Markhoff says while few people relish the task of writing a will, it's critically important to have one.

"You really want to have a will to dispose of the assets the way you want to and also especially when you have children. No matter how much money you have, you must have a will to name a guardian to watch the children."

Consumer Reports money adviser looked at software programs - three in all - that claim to help you write a will for less than the cost of a lawyer.

"My husband and I made a will on LegalZoom."

The heavily-advertised Legalzoom, along with Rocket Lawyer, allow you to create a will online. The third program tested, quicken willmaker plus, is available as a download or a cd-rom.

"These products cost from 25 dollars for a flat fee to 119 dollars for a yearly subscription. We bought all three, tested them, and with the help of an outside expert, we judged their ease of use and the quality of the wills they produced."

Consumer Reports found problems with all three programs.

"There was little specific information on state estate-tax laws, which can be different from federal laws."

And there are other drawbacks with these do-it-yourself wills. They do not allow users to create a special-needs trust, and they give no specifics on compensating executors. Still, all three are better than nothing if you have no will.

Quicken's Willmaker Plus is the best of the three. But unless your needs are very simple, you're better off consulting an attorney.

Consumer Reports says a benefit of the do-it-yourself wills it evaluated - they can help you get organized and ready to answer an attorney's questions - so you won't need to spend as much time with an attorney. And that translates into money saved.

For KFDX-3 News, I'm Greg Parker. Back to you.

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